Gurudongmar was on my bucket-list since 2011 when I planned with my friends for North Sikkim travel for the first time. Unfortunately, due to a devastating earthquake in Sikkim in the same year we had to cancel our trip. Nevertheless, visiting Lake Gurudongmar was my destiny. I finally made it after 5 long years. 🙂
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, at approx. 17,800 feet above the sea level, the holy lake is about 3.5-hour drive from Lachen, a small village where tourist can halt for the night.
We started early, at 4am. It was a terribly bumpy ride on the rough mountain roads till the army check post after Thangu, which was our only halt during this hectic journey.
The road gets better from here, offering a smooth ride, which is a rarity in North Sikkim. 😛 😀
As we were nearing the lake the landscapes changed drastically without any trace of trees and plants. It looked more like a desert with dune-like formations visible at the horizon. Exalted and overwhelmed, one of our group members commented that the landscapes reminded him of Ladakh. 🙂
Whatever it might look like, the mountain desert looked outlandish and fascinating to me. I was spellbound with the sights of such exotic landscapes.
We saw herds of yaks grazing on the fields, totally indifferent about the tourist vehicles that were running past them.
Finally, we reached our destination, Lake Gurudongmar, at 7:30am. That’s how the holy lake looked like in the morning light – still, calm, and unspoiled.
The first few moments were speechless in silent admiration to such divine beauty.
There is a temple on the bank. I didn’t find time to enter as I was too busy in absorbing the beauty of nature all around.
And of course, posing with the lake on the backdrop. 😉
However, amid this clean and clear environment the taxis/rental cars were the direct agent of air pollution. These rental cars are so poorly maintained in Sikkim. I wonder why the local administration is so indifferent about them while it is so strict about keeping Gangtok clean.
In addition, there are the “litterbugs” who never forget to throw off their disposable belongings anytime, anywhere. If you zoom into the picture (below) you’ll see the discarded water bottles. Is it not the responsibility of the visitors, too, to keep the environment clean?
Our Tour Plan
We were lucky to have the weather in our favor during our tour from May 7 to 12, 2016. Our North Sikkim tour included 2-night 3-day Lachung-Lachen package. We stayed at Hotel Meylong in Gangtok and booked the Lachung-Lachen tour package through our hotel. You can check out my review of Hotel Meylong on TripAdvisor for more information.
Our North Sikkim tour plan was like this –
Day 1: NJP (New Jalpaiguri) to Gangtok (We reached NJP from Kolkata at around 9am by Padatik Express)
Day 2: Gangtok to Lachung (Night stay at Lachung)
Day 3: Visit Yumthung Valley and Zero Point – Back to hotel at Lachung for lunch – drive to Lachen (Night stay at Lachen)
Day 4: Visit Lake Gurudongmar and drive back to hotel for lunch – return to Gangtok by evening
Day 5: Gangtok sightseeing
Day 6: Visit Changu (Tsomgo Lake), Baba Mandir and Nathu La pass and return to Gangtok
Day 7: Start for NJP after lunch and reach there by 7:30pm and board the train to Kolkata
Some Important Info
Please note that if you are an Indian citizen, you should carry your Voter ID card/PAN card/driving license as photo identity proof along with 4-5 photocopies of the same document and an equal number of passport size photographs for Lachung-Lachen tour. You may need to submit these documents to get the travel permit. However, you cannot rent cars on your own and arrange the tour directly. You have to go via a local tour operator or your hotel’s travel desk. They will arrange everything for you.
Finally, don’t forget to pack an umbrella if you are visiting in May-June season. You may need it anytime. 🙂
To be continued…